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Lions continue coaching staff shakeup

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Getty Images

More changes are coming on the Lions’ coaching staff.

The Lions fired wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, running backs coach Sam Gash and offensive line coach George Yarno immediately after the season, and now changes appear to be coming on special teams as well. According to the Detroit News, special teams coordinator Danny Crossman has asked to be let out of the final year of his contract so he can take the same position in Buffalo, where his old friend Doug Marrone is the new head coach.

Other than the generally reliable kicker Jason Hanson, the Lions’ special teams were terrible last season, so it seems highly likely that the Lions would be more than happy to let the Bills take on the last year of Crossman’s contract. That’s especially true considering that there’s now a strong candidate available to take over the Lions’ special teams in Alan Lowry, who was recently fired by the Titans. Lowry and Lions head coach Jim Schwartz worked together in Tennessee for 10 years.

Former Jacksonville tight ends coach Bobby Johnson is expected to take the same job on the Lions’ staff, while Tim Lappano, who has coached the tight ends in Detroit the last four seasons, is expected to move to a different spot on the coaching staff.

Jeremiah Washburn, who has spent the last four seasons as assistant offensive line coach, has been named as a likely candidate to take over for the fired Yarno as offensive line coach.

UPDATE 2:15 p.m. ET: The Lions have announced that they hired Curtis Modkins as running backs coach/run game coordinator and Bobby Johnson as tight ends coach, that Tim Lappano will serve as wide receivers coach, Jeremiah Washburn will serve as offensive line coach and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman will not return.

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It’s too late for the NFL to get it right with Josh Brown

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2013, file photo, New York Giants kicker Josh Brown reacts after missing a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Brown admitted in journal entries and emails that he verbally and physically abused his wife, according to documents that were part of a domestic violence case obtained by SNY. Team spokesman Corry Rush declined comment Thursday morning, Oct. 20, 2016,  on the details that emerged from a case in Washington. Brown was arrested in May 2015 on a domestic violence allegation but no charges were filed against the 37-year-old player. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) AP

Once again, P.R. as in public relations for the NFL will trump P.R. as in player rights.

The league had its chance to develop any and all information that it could regarding the conduct of Giants kicker Josh Brown. The league failed to get the information that it needed in order to make a proper decision as to the discipline to be imposed on Brown, because the league couldn’t get Brown’s ex-wife or the relevant law-enforcement authorities to cooperate.

Instead of telling Josh Brown that the inability to get all the information about his conduct won’t count as a mitigating circumstance that reduces the standard six-game suspension for committing an act of domestic violence or that the NFL simply won’t allow him to play until Brown persuades his ex-wife and/or the authorities to provide the needed information, the league imposed a one-game suspension on Brown and closed the books.

Now, with the information the NFL failed to obtain regarding Brown’s misconduct obtained and published, the NFL apparently plans to do precisely what it tried to do to Ray Rice after the video the NFL should have obtained became available to the public: Punish Brown a second time for the same behavior.

This is no longer about whether Brown should have been suspended for more than one game; obviously, he should have been. This is now about whether the NFL can reach back and fix a mistake borne of negligence, incompetence, and/or extending a courtesy to an extremely influential owner by imposing a second penalty on Brown for the same misconduct.

Like the Ray Rice case, the league will likely argue that Brown lied during the original investigation. Unlike the Rice case, the league likely will argue that Brown is being punished not for the incident that occurred in May 2015 but for separate conduct described in the materials obtained by SNY.

Because the Josh Brown case won’t be generating the intense focus and criticism that the Ray Rice case did (which was exacerbated by the AP report that the league had the critical video before TMZ published it), Commissioner Roger Goodell most likely won’t be delegating his authority over the internal disciplinary process to a retired judge or any other independent party. Instead, buoyed by the federal appeals court decisions in litigation arising from suspensions imposed on Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson, the league office will do what it wants with Brown, stickhandling its way through the contours of the relevant precedent and engineering a way to take action against Brown.

The end result? The NFL will as a practical matter acquire the ability to punish a player twice for the same general misbehavior.

And if the Giants decide to cut Brown and not pay the balance of his salary, the Giants could face a grievance of their own, like the Ravens did when they cut Rice. The player may be in better position to get a fair shake on that one, since resolving it likely wouldn’t fall under the NFL’s authority.

Regardless, even though Brown never should have been re-signed by the Giants, the Giants knew or should have known all about his conduct before bringing him back. They shouldn’t be allowed to slide out of Hell’s Kitchen now that their potentially willful ignorance has been confirmed.

Bottom line? The NFL and the Giants had their chance to do the right thing. For whatever reason(s), they failed. It now would be unfair to Brown and all other players for the league and the Giants to say or do anything other than, “We blew it the first time, and we have no legal right to a second bite at the apple.”

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Antonio Cromartie’s wife says anthem protest got him cut

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 25:  Antonio Cromartie #31 of the Indianapolis Colts kneels and raises his fist during the National Anthem before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts owner Jim Irsay said he disagrees with the players who are protesting the national anthem. The Colts cut cornerback Antonio Cromartie two weeks after he began kneeling during the national anthem. Cromartie’s wife says those two things are more than a coincidence.

Terricka Cromartie wrote on her private Instagram account that taking a knee during the anthem is what led to Antonio losing his job in Indianapolis.

“One things for sure I know my husband was told Not to take a Knee and he went with his heart and he took one. And that cost him his Job,” she wrote, according to the Indianapolis Star.

That may be Cromartie’s wife’s perception, but that doesn’t make it accurate. Cromartie played badly early in the season, and he was cut after an ugly game against the Jaguars that saw the Colts make several changes on defense that involved people who hadn’t knelt for the anthem, including cutting Sio Moore. The Colts also got two cornerbacks back from injuries around the time they cut Cromartie, which suggests that he was released because he no longer had a place on the defense.

Cromartie himself has not said whether he thinks his anthem protest was related to his departure from Indianapolis.

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Carson Palmer working on side at Cardinals practice

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a pass against the New York Jets in the first quarter during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said that he left Monday night’s game against the Jets early because he was cramping after his exit was first attributed to a hamstring strain.

It’s starting to look like the initial explanation might have had some credence. Palmer was listed as a non-participant in practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring issue and Thursday is shaping up the same way.

Darren Urban of the team’s website reports that Palmer came out to the field without a helmet and is working on the side with a trainer. Urban adds that he doesn’t expect the team to provide much of an update on Palmer’s condition as coach Bruce Arians isn’t scheduled to address the media on Thursday and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who will speak to reporters, doesn’t discuss injuries.

Whether through Arians’ comments or Palmer’s practice status, Friday should bring some more clarity about whether the hamstring will have any impact on the quarterback’s readiness for Sunday night’s game against the Seahawks.

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No practice for Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson Thursday

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 2: Wide receiver DeSean Jackson #11 of the Washington Redskins wears cleats displaying police caution tape prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns at FedExField on October 2, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tight end Jordan Reed kept his concussion under wraps in Week Five, which allowed him to finish playing against the Ravens before he missed last Sunday’s win over the Eagles.

It’s looking like Reed is going to miss another game for the Redskins this weekend. Reed was able to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday while wearing a non-contact jersey, but he took a step in the other direction on Thursday.

Reed didn’t participate in practice at all, which isn’t the best of signs about his ability to get cleared through the league’s concussion protocol in time to face the Lions on Sunday. Vernon Davis would continue to see an expanded role in the event that Reed is out of the lineup.

Going without Reed would be a major blow to the Redskins passing game and it’s not the only injury concern on that front heading into the matchup with Detroit. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson missed a second straight day of practice with a shoulder injury, which makes it easier to be skeptical about his Wednesday vow of confidence that he’ll be on the field.

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Packers officially place Lacy on IR, promote Don Jackson

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 29:  Running back Don Jackson #6 of the Nevada Wolf Pack rushes the football past linebacker Kevin Davis #33 of the Colorado State Rams during the second quarter of the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Reports emerged on Thursday that Packers running back Eddie Lacy will have surgery on his ankle and miss at least the next eight weeks of the season while on injured reserve.

The Packers made it official later in the day. The team has announced that Lacy has been placed on injured reserve while he deals with his ankle injury.

Green Bay also announced that they have promoted running back Don Jackson from the practice squad, a move that’s been talked about as a possibility all week given Lacy’s injury and James Starks‘ knee surgery. Jackson signed as an undrafted free agent out of Nevada in May and didn’t play in the preseason because of an injury, which means his next snap will be his first one in an NFL game.

The Packers also traded for Knile Davis this week and they’ve used wide receivers Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb out of the backfield.

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NFL reopening Josh Brown case in light of new information

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:   Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants is interviewed after kicking the game-winning field goal against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The release of new documents by the King County, Washington Sheriff regarding Giants kicker Josh Brown’s admissions of domestic violence had many people wondering why the NFL didn’t come up with a punishment more severe than a one-game suspension.

The NFL has joined the Giants, who re-signed Brown as a free agent and boasted they had done due diligence into Brown’s past, in saying that they were unaware of the existence of documents featuring Brown, who explained his arrest as one moment before evidence of more than 20 incidents came to light, admitting to abusing his then-wife and referring to her as “his slave.” The league issued a statement on Thursday saying that the release of these new documents will lead to Brown’s case being re-opened with the potential for further discipline.

NFL investigators made repeated attempts — both orally and in writing — to obtain any and all evidence and relevant information in this case from the King County Sheriff’s Office. Each of those requests was denied and the Sheriff’s Office declined to provide any of the requested information, which ultimately limited our ability to fully investigate this matter. We concluded our own investigation, more than a year after the initial incident, based on the facts and evidence available to us at the time and after making exhaustive attempts to obtain information in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that we did not have the benefit or knowledge of these materials at the time.”

“In light of the release of these documents yesterday, we will thoroughly review the additional information and determine next steps in the context of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. We will not be making any comments on potential discipline until that time.”

Given all that was already known about Brown’s behavior, including his ex-wife telling police about a letter he wrote to friends admitting abuse in a report that was previously available, there will still be questions about the initial response of the league and the Giants to Brown’s actions.

There may also be questions about why the Commissioner’s exempt list, used in the Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson cases, wasn’t used as a way for Brown to be removed from the roster while still being paid and under investigation if the league was unsatisfied with the information available to them in their investigation.

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Giants spokesman: Team was unaware of latest Josh Brown news

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06:   Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants sets up before missing a field goal in ovetime and losing 23-20 to the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 6, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

When they decided to keep kicker Josh Brown after allegations of domestic violence, Giants owner John Mara said the team “did do some due diligence” on the case.

But last night’s news that Brown admitted to years of physical and emotional abuse of his then-wife was news to them too.

According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, a team spokesman said “the team was unaware of the information and documents in the Josh Brown case released to the press last night.”

Brown is on the field and practicing today, in advance of the team’s trip to London. He hasn’t talked to reporters today, and coach Ben McAdoo was not scheduled to talk until they arrived in England tomorrow. He does have a scheduled radio appearance later this afternoon.

When the first reports of abuse emerged in August, Mara said the team was “comfortable with the decision” to re-sign the free agent kicker after they were aware of his past.

“I’m not going to get into whether they were valid or invalid. We did do some due diligence on this. We had a number of conversations with a number of different people,” Mara said then. “We had a lot of facts and circumstances that were presented to us. We looked at all of those things. This is an organization that always tries to do the right thing. I don’t know if we always get it done, but we try.

We did our homework here. We got as many of the facts and circumstances in front of us as we could, and we made the determination.”

The NFL was also unaware after their investigation, so the Giants don’t have to feel alone. Brown was suspended one game by the league, far less than the six-game “baseline” for domestic violence suspensions.

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Will Fuller back at practice, plans to play Monday night

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 2: Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans returns a punt for a 67 yard touchdown as Tennessee Titans defenders pursue in the third quarter during the NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

After getting off to a great start with back-to-back 100-yard games to start the season, Texans rookie receiver Will Fuller has been struggling with a leg injury. Last week he didn’t play at all against the Colts, and the week before that he was limited to one catch for four yards against the Vikings.

But when the Texans take the field on Monday night against the Broncos, Fuller fully expects to be there.

“I felt good out there,” Fuller said after practicing fully, via the Houston Chronicle. “I was running routes. I’m ready to go.”

Despite the injury, Fuller is second on the team behind DeAndre Hopkins with 20 catches for 327 yards and two touchdowns, plus a punt return touchdown. Having him back gives the Texans a big-play threat against the stout Denver defense.

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Eddie Lacy having surgery, will be placed on injured reserve

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 25: Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers runs against the Detroit Lions
at Lambeau Field on September 25, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers running back Eddie Lacy went for a second opinion on his injured ankle earlier this week and the result of that examination isn’t good news for the Green Bay running game.

According to multiple reports, Lacy has learned that he needs to have surgery to repair the injury and will be placed on injured reserve. That will keep him out of the lineup for at least eight weeks and it will mean that at least one of Lacy and cornerback Sam Shields, who went on injured reserve earlier this week, will miss the rest of the season as the Packers can only bring one player back.

The news on Lacy comes at a moment when the Packers are also without James Starks because of Starks’ knee surgery. That leaves them with the newly acquired Knile Davis and wide receivers Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb as backfield options, although it seems likely that they’ll now promote Don Jackson from the practice squad to increase their options in the ground game.

Whether that happens before the Packers host the Bears on Thursday night remains to be seen along with how the Packers will cope without their top running back for the next two months or more.

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Odell Beckham not practicing Thursday, Josh Brown is

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2016, file photo, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) tries to avoid a tackle by Philadelphia Eagles safety Ed Reynolds (30) during the third quarter of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Odell Beckham Jr. has been the team’s big-play threat in his two seasons. Last year, he did it almost by himself because the team didn’t have a consistent No. 2 receiver.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) AP

Wide receiver Odell Beckham didn’t practice on Wednesday as a result of the hip injury he suffered against the Ravens in Week Six, leading coach Ben McAdoo to say that he was being considered day-to-day as the Giants prepare to go to London for a game against the Rams.

Day Two of the practice week brings no change in Beckham’s status. According to reports from Giants practice, Beckham is not on the field with his teammates as they go through the portion of practice open to the media.

Beckham is coming off his best game of the season and will be facing a Rams secondary that will likely be without top cornerback Trumaine Johnson if he’s able to play this weekend, something that would bode well for his chances of keeping last week’s success rolling on the other side of the Atlantic.

Kicker Josh Brown is practicing with the team Thursday, a day after his history of domestic violence made news again with the release of 165 pages of documents by the King County, Washington Sherrif. Among those documents are journals and emails that feature Brown, who was suspended for the opening game by the league, writing that he “physically, verbally and emotionally abused” his now ex-wife, who he referred to as “my slave,” during their marriage. No one from the Giants, who said they thoroughly researched Brown’s past before re-signing him this offseason, has commented on that release at this point.

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Bryce Petty wants to play

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 11: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars  during an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

With Ryan Fitzpatrick benched and Geno Smith starting, it’s only a matter of time before Geno Smith is benched and another Jets quarterback gets the ball.

Bryce Petty wants that to be him.

Shoot, I want game action,” Petty told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “I think that’s what everybody in this locker room wants . . . is to get an opportunity. That’s all you can ask for in life in general, much less in this game. So, I definitely want an opportunity. . . . My plan is to go in and prepare like I am and then just wait for my number to be called and just jump on that opportunity. I’ve been in this league a short amount of time, but what I have learned is that when you do get your opportunity, you got to jump on it. Because they’re quick and few and far between.”

Petty’s chance could be coming quickly, if Geno Smith plays like he previously has.

Of course, Petty’s chance could quickly end, too. At some point, the Jets will want to see what they have in rookie Christian Hackenberg — especially if they’re going to be in position to draft yet another quarterback in 2017.

If they play their cards right, the Jets could be in position to draft the first quarterback in 2017.

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Terrelle Pryor, Joe Haden still out of Browns practice

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 04:  Joe Haden #23 of the Cleveland Browns looks on prior to the start of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns are trying to break out of their winless skid this weekend against the Bengals, and they might have to attempt it without key players on either side of the ball.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, both wide receiver Terrelle Pryor and cornerback Joe Haden sat out of their second straight practice Thursday.

Pryor is dealing with a hamstring injury from last week’s loss to the Titans, while Haden pulled a groin muscle during practice last week.

They’re hopeful both will be able to play, but missing two straight days of practice has to be a concern.

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Why are TV ratings down?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media at the NFL meetings, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith) AP

On Wednesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that, when it comes to the league’s sagging TV ratings, “I don’t think there’s a single reason for it.”

“There are a lot of factors to be considered,” Goodell added. “We don’t make excuses. We look at it and we try to figure out what’s changing.”

He later said that the league hasn’t “lost viewers.” Instead, the problem as Goodell sees it is that they’re not watching as much or for as long.

As to the anthem protests turning off viewers, Goodell said, “[W]e don’t think that’s a factor and our network partners don’t either.”

So here’s your chance to identify the reason that you believe is the main reason for the decline in ratings. Vote below, comment below that.

Given the number of comments posted on the various stories regarding TV ratings, you won’t need to be asked twice.

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Joe Flacco remains out of practice Thursday

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 16:  Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens in action against the New York Giants during their game at MetLife Stadium on October 16, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s absence from practice is now at two days and counting.

Flacco did not practice on Wednesday due to a right shoulder issue that coach John Harbaugh said the team would monitor over the course of the week, although Flacco didn’t seem overly concerned.

“It’s nothing to worry about,” Flacco said, via the team’s website. “I have a little shoulder soreness, so I just thought it was best to take the day off and come back and see how it feels tomorrow.”

The shoulder wasn’t feeling well enough for Flacco, who had an MRI, to get back to work on Thursday, leaving one practice session left before the team will face the Jets on Sunday. Harbaugh said that Flacco doesn’t have to practice in order to play, although it remains to be seen if a few days of rest will be enough for everyone feels comfortable about Flacco getting back on the field.

Per multiple reports from the Ravens facility, wide receiver Steve Smith, right guard Marshal Yanda and linebackers Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and C.J. Mosley are also sitting out of practice.

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LeSean McCoy not on hand for Bills practice

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 20: Running back LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills walks off of the field in the third quarter after being injured against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 20, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins won, 35-25. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills running back LeSean McCoy wasn’t able to finish practice yesterday.

He wasn’t able to begin it today.

Via Mike Rodak of, the league’s second-leading rusher was not on hand for the start of Bills practice Thursday.

Bills coach Rex Ryan said yesterday that McCoy had some “tightness” in his hamstring and was getting checked by doctors.

If he can’t go, Mike Gillislee would get the start against the Dolphins. He has 17 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns this season.

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